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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Memoir of a Schizophrenic by Karl Lorenz Willett is a compelling read with a strong appeal for fans of memoirs that explore the minds of those with mental illnesses. In this memoir, the author takes readers on a journey through schizophrenia. Written for his family, it starts with early memories at Davis Infant school and documents the author’s experiences living “at the edge of human experience,” and battling thoughts of darkness, obsessed with a reality that is as elusive as it is illusionary. The author writes about his mental battles, moments of depression, and suicidal tendencies, letting readers in on how distorted his reality could be. Even assistance in a psychiatric hospital at an early age didn’t help. But how did this man cope with his condition, where did he find the stability to establish a family and raise children?
While the prose isn’t impeccably good, the narrative is poignant and psychologically rich. The author writes with honesty and allows readers a powerful glimpse of his troubled mind. The author worried about spiritual realities; he suffered with the idea of hell and blamed the church for not teaching the values of love, compassion, understanding, joy and happiness. This was one of the causes of his deep-seated fear and anxiety. He writes: “The preaching of gloom and doom hence the coming of Christ had consigned everyone to ‘hell’, always the wages of sin, death and the devil.” The narrative is emotionally and spiritually rich and the reader will feel connected to the protagonist.
Memoir of a Schizophrenic is a moving story and while it speaks of the struggles of Karl Lorenz Willett, it also delivers a powerful message of hope — we can always find meaning and healing when we are deeply connected to a support system, to a family, and to friends. The book conveys the message that love heals, nourishes us and empowers us to overcome the most difficult challenges.